We first learned about walking the Quilotoa Loop from the two British women on our Santa Cruz trek. They described it as a great way to experience some of the culture in Ecuador as the trail links several more remote Andean villages. I think we actually only walked part of the loop and rather did the Quilotoa Traverse which can be done in either direction. Many people also opt to do the traverse using transportation between each town, but on the recommendation of our friends, we decided to walk the trail in the uphill direction to end up at the crater lake of Quilotoa on the last day.
We stayed in a great hostel in Latacunga before we left, and luckily they had very detailed instructions for walkers in both directions. On the day of our departure due either to my poor Spanish or mis-information we missed our bus to the starting town of Isinlivi and instead had to catch a bus to a more distant town, Sigchos.
The ride itself was an adventure with chickens everywhere and people packed into the bus. Our mistake ended up having a silver lining however because it meant that we were able to have one more day on the trail, as we had to walk the first day about 8 miles to our original starting point of Isinlivi.
Immediately the scenery was beautiful as we descended into the valley. Several themes started to form as the day wore on. Primarily, despite our detailed instructions, we quickly lost the way. Secondarily, we walked down, down, down, crossed the river and then walked up, up, up.
I was glad that we were fairly acclimatized at this point as we were both carrying our packs and some of the going up was by no means gentle. And to make things even more adventurous, most properties were guarded by very vocal and excitable dogs that made sure to let us know where their property lines lay. We also met quite a few friendly locals along the way who looked like they did this walk every day.
we arrived quite early into Chugchilán. There were plenty of hammocks to swing in so we weren’t complaining. This hostal was much livelier and we had several fellow hikers around for meals which was nice.
The third day to Quilotoa felt like mostly up the side of the volcano (we did go down to the river first),
but we did pass through some towns on the way which we all realized were celebrating Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which is right after Halloween. We couldn’t tell for sure, but it looked like everyone from the towns would gather in the grave yards and eat food and drink soda using the graves/tombs as tables.
Can you find Erik?
If we’d had more time I think we would have liked to stay two nights in one town or stay the last night in Quilotoa, but for the first time in long time we had limited time. So, we quickly started looking for a way to get back to Latacunga that night. While we waited we lunched on some bread men we had found earlier that day that may or may not have been special for Dia de los Muertos.
After some haggling we found someone who would take us to the next town where we could catch a bus for a fair price. It was really interesting to observe the “public transportation system” in process. It seems that anyone with a vehicle will pick up anyone else to go from town to town for a small fee.